Today's poets, today's poems. Share yours, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Haitian-Puerto Rican-American artist from New York. His paintings were usually covered with text and codes of all kinds: words, letters, numerals, pictograms, logos, map symbols, diagrams, etc. When he was 13, his mother was committed to a mental institution, and after he dropped out of school his father banished him from the household. For awhile he supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade post cards. In 1976, at 16, with Al Diaz, he became part of the grafitti duo SAMO ("same old shit") that spray-painted designs and cryptic slogans ("Plush safe he think.. SAMO" or SAMO as an escape clause") on buildings in Manhattan. When SAMO broke up in 1979, he formed Test Pattern, a noise rock band, later renamed Gray, and performed at venues such as Max's Kansas City, CBGB, Hurrah, and the Mudd Club, and in 1980 he met Andy Warhol. Basquiat sold his first painting in 1981, and by 1982, spurred by the Neo-Expressionist art boom, his work was in great demand. In 1985, he was featured on the cover of "The New York Times Magazine" in connection with an article on the newly exuberant international art market; this was unprecedented for an African-American artist, and for one so young. Meanwhile, he was working on various projects with Blondie and David Bowie, and dating Madonna. Warhol and Basquiat worked on a series of collaborative paintings between 1983 and 1985. When Warhol died in 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his heroin addiction and depression grew more severe. He died of a heroin overdose at his art studio on Great Jones Street in Manhattan in 1988; he was 27. When Vernon Reid of the heavy metal band Living Colour learned of his death, he wrote "Desperate People" (for the album "Vivid") about the New York drug scene. In 1991, poet Kevin Young produced "To Repel Ghosts," a compendium of 117 poems relating to Basquiat's life, individual paintings, and social themes found in the artist's work. In 1996, Julian Schnabel's film "Basquiat" was released, with in the title role and Bowie as Warhol.Two years later, "Downtown 81", a film vérité starring Basquiat, written by Glenn O'Brien and shot by Edo Bertoglio in 1981, was finally released. In 2005, M. K. Asante published the poem "SAMO," dedicated to Basquiat, in his book "Beautiful. And Ugly Too."Both Jay-Z and Kanye West made reference to Basquiat on their 2011 collaborative album Watch the Throne. Both Jay-Z and Kanye West made references to Basquiat on their 2011 collaborative album, "Watch the Throne," and Jay Z and Frank Ocean referenced him again in their song "Oceans" on the 2013 album "Magna Carta Holy Grail." Other rapper and hiphop singers, including Macklemore, Danny Brown, ASAP Rocky, Robb Bank$, Killer Mike, Kidz in the Hall, T.O.P, Cyhi the Prynce, Nicki Minaj, Lil' Flip, Yasiin Bey, and others, have also alluded to him, as have Gym Class Heroes. Madonna paid tribute to him in "Graffiti Heart" on the super deluxe edition of her album "Rebel Heart." In 2007, an untitled Basquiat work from 1981 sold at Sotheby's in New York for US$14.6 million, and the global auction volume for his work was over $115million. In 2011 and 2012, Basquiat was the most coveted "contemporary" (i.e. born after 1945) artist at auction, with €80m in overall sales; two untitled paintings sold for $16.3 million and £12.92 million, respectively. In 2016 another untitled piece sold at Christie's for $57.3 million to a Japanese collector.
Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?